Hobby male hunting over Lakenheath RSPB Reserve, East Anglia

Hobby success at The Lodge

Lizzie Bruce, warden of The Lodge nature reserve in Bedfordshire, updates us on how wildlife is faring following recent work on the heathland.

The breeding season

After a winter of successful work on the heathland, we waited in anticipation to see whether woodlarks would breed on the reserve this year.

Sadly, it was not the case, but we did hear one bird singing. A lesser spotted woodpecker was heard and seen on a regular basis around the birch woodlands, but once again, we could not prove that it was breeding.

During late April and early May, we saw up to seven spotted flycatchers across the reserve, and we were hopeful that numbers would improve, but a wet May meant that the only nest on site ended up failing.

A full breeding bird survey across the reserve revealed encouraging numbers of whitethroats, chiffchaffs, willow warblers and linnets. Ravens were present, but decided to breed off the reserve, raising three young.

Returning hobbies

I'm proud to say that the hobbies returned for their fourth year.

With help from our volunteers, we set up a hobby watch so that visitors could see the nest and chicks. We had great views of them catching food.

Although natterjack toad spawn strings were down on last year, a lot more toadlets were seen than in previous years. This winter, we're creating corridors to allow the toads to spread across the reserve.

Work will start in 2017 on the reserve's half-mile broken boundary wall that runs between Sandy train station and the reserve entrance.

The most sustainable option is to remove the wall, and reprofile the slope behind it. We'll do this work with wildlife in mind, retaining some well-established trees and planting native broadleaf saplings once we've finished the work, which we hope will be by the autumn.

Hobby pair at The Lodge

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